NEW LAW: Divorce Your Wife, Lose Your House To Her In Oyo
A woman that has children for her husband and had married him before a house is built has the right to live in the house with her children even after divorce under the provisions of the Married Woman Property Act 1882, a court held on Friday in Ibadan, Oyo State.
The belief that patriarchy is so entrenched in the Nigerian system and women have no rights even under the law has been proved to be an erroneous one, majorly propounded by those ignorant of the rights provided under the law, the court said in a landmark judgement.
The provisions of the Married Woman Property Act 1882 formed the basis of the pronouncement of the Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice Munta Abimbola, on Friday in a property suit between a divorced couple, Toyin Arajulu, formerly known as Mrs Toyin James and her former husband, Mr James Monday.
The court held that “a husband who marries a wife and builds a house during the pendency of the marriage stands the risk of losing that house if he later divorces the woman who had children for him unless such woman, of her own volition, leaves the matrimonial home.”
Justice Abimbola, while ruling on the matter, emphasised what is known in law as the “palm tree justice,” which indicates that it does not matter in whose name the property stands or who pays what (on the property) and in what proportion as determination of such matters transcends all rights, legal or even equitable, but simply what order is fair and just in the circumstances of the case, citing the case of Home Vs Home (1962) 1 WLR 1124 at 1128.S 17 Married Woman Property Act 1882, which is a statute of general application.
Toyin Arajulu had filed the suit against her ex-husband, Monday James, who she married under Native Law and Customs in 1997 and for whom she had four children.
She claimed that while she was married to him, they had put resources together and built two flats of three bedrooms at Ayedun in Akure, Ondo State and procured a plot of land at No 7, Fadana Biala Estate, Olodo, Ibadan, where they built a three-bedroom flat and a storey building which is still under construction before their divorce in July 2014.
She averred that before the divorce, her husband had moved out of their matrimonial home in Olodo but only came constantly to try to forcibly eject her and the children, usually accompanied by thugs who attacked her and her children.